The police in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district arrested a man on Sunday for allegedly posting offensive content against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Union minister Smriti Irani, among others. Baliraj Dhote, who reportedly runs a “self-respect movement”, was taken into custody after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Information Technology cell filed complaints against him, The Indian Express reported.
Dhote has been charged under sections 354 1(iv) [secual harassment] and 505(2) [public mischief] of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 [transmitting obscene material in electronic form] of the Information Technology Act. He has been sent to magisterial custody.
“We have arrested him under the above sections because he posted offensive and obscene content on both WhatsApp and Facebook,” the newspaper quoted Superintendent of Police Maheshwar Reddy as saying. “He had posted another content that showed PM Modi and Union minister Smriti Irani in a bad light. These posts had created disquiet in the city and posed a threat to peace in the city.” One of his posts was about freedom fighter Bhagat Singh being represented by a Muslim lawyer while a Hindu lawyer, associated with the RSS, had argued in the case against him, Reddy added.
Dhote was arrested in the early hours of Sunday amid high drama as the police locked him inside his home to prevent him from escaping. A video of him speaking about police brutality also went viral on social media.
The BJP’s IT cell filed four separate complaints against Dhote at several police stations, according to The Times of India. One of the complaints insinuated that an ambulance in the convoy of State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar was used for bringing liquor into the dry Chandrapur district.
BJP’s women wing also charged Dhote with defamation for posting morphed pictures of Modi and Irani on WhatsApp. Mayor of Chandrapur Municipal Corporation Anjali Ghotekar along with other female leaders of the saffron party staged demonstrations at Chandrapur’s Gandhi Chowk and burned Dhote’s effigy.
The saffron party’s women’s wing claimed they had filed a separate complaint with the police. They reportedly also found a 19-year-old article published by Dhote with alleged defamatory content on Hindu gods.